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Golf Rules - Unplayable Golf Shots & The Rules That Dictate Them

Golf Rules - What Is A Lateral Water Hazard?
April 27th, 2017

Golf Scorecards

A lateral water hazard is an unfortunate shot in which you must penalize yourself by one stroke. Always marked by red stakes, a lateral water hazard is located on the sides of the hole and is positioned between yourself and the flagstick.

A small stream may border the hole and could be considered a lateral hazard. Other times, a lateral hazard itself may not be made up of water, but could be a dried up riverbed, ditch, or swamp.

Whatever the area is made of, it will be marked by red stakes or simply spray painted as a red line on the grass. Just like any standard water hazard, you are entitled to attempt to hit the ball out of a lateral water hazard area if you think you can make it. However, if a shot is looking totally unplayable, you have four choices:

1. You may drop the golf ball behind the water area. Your choice here is to drop the ball at any place behind the lateral water hazard onto a virtual line. This virtual line should be running from the hole to the exact area where the ball entered the water.

2. You may replay your shot. Simply stated, you have the opportunity to just go back to the same area in which you originally shot the ball from and play it over.

3. You may drop the ball within the same length, or less, of two clubs where the ball crossed over the line of the lateral hazard. This is called a "2-club drop".

4. Lastly, similar to the 2-club drop, you may choose an area on the opposite side of your lateral water hazard and then place the ball within the lengths of two clubs from that point. Basically, you're utilizing the 2-club drop on the opposite side of the water area.